, Volume 102, Issue 3-4, pp 265-273
Date: 12 Feb 2010

Relationship between olive flowering and latitude in two Mediterranean countries (Italy and Tunisia)

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In phenological studies, the plant developments are analysed considering their relationships with seasonal meteorological conditions; moreover, the influences of geographical features on biological responses have to be also considered. Different studies analysed the influence of latitude on phenological phases to investigate the possible different magnitude of biological response. In our experience, this type of geographic evaluation was conducted considering one of the more important plant species of Mediterranean shrub, the olive (Olea europaea L.) in fifteen olive monitoring stations, four located in Tunisia and eleven in Italy, from the southern Zarzis area at 33° to the northern Perugia area at 43° of latitude. The olive flowering phenomenon was studied, utilising an aerobiological monitoring method through appropriate pollen traps located inside olive groves from 1999 to 2008. The olive monitored pollen grains were recognised and evaluated to obtain daily pollen concentrations to define the flowering dates in the different study areas. The biometeorological statistical analysis showed the 7°C threshold temperature and the single triangle method for growing degree days (GDD) yearly computing as the better ones in comparison to others. Moreover, the regression analysis between the dates of full flowering and the GDD amounts at the different monitoring latitudes permitted us to evidence the biological response of olive species in geographic regions with different climate patterns. The specific biological response at different latitude was investigated, the slope results, as flowering days per heat amounts, evidenced that olive species behaviours are very constant in consequence to similar meteorological conditions independently to latitude variations. Averagely, the relationships between plant’s phenology, temperature trends and geographical features are very close, even if the yearly mesoscale meteorological variations force to consider, year by year, phenological advances or delays as local events.